BOOM: Ted Cruz gets his first challenger for 2018…

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Following his defeat in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, many wondered what the next move would be for Ted Cruz. Speculation that he may fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia was just that… speculation.

The Cruz campaign was seen as a long shot by many pundits, yet he was able to hang with eventual winner Donald Trump longer than anyone else in the field. Although the second place finish was an accomplishment, it may have come at a heavy cost. The bitter campaign resulted in Cruz refusing to endorse Trump at the Republican Convention, a move unpopular with many.

Although Cruz seems content in the Senate, some believe his actions last year make him vulnerable come election time. Now, a challenger is ready to announce his plan to capitalize on that vulnerability.

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From The Hill:

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) will announce on Friday that he’ll challenge Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018, according to the Houston Chronicle.

O’Rourke will reportedly make the announcement in his hometown of El Paso, which he has represented since 2013.

In an email to supporters last week, the O’Rourke campaign teased an unspecified “big announcement.”

O’Rourke has previously said he’s strongly considering running against Cruz, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

“It’s very likely that I will run for Senate in 2018,” O’Rourke told the Texas Tribune earlier this year.

Of course, running for Senate as a Democrat in Texas is a challenge. But O’Rourke might see now as an opportunity to capitalize on a more vulnerable than usual Cruz. O’Rourke is likely to play up the fact that he’s been willing to work across the aisle with Republicans:

O’Rourke received recent national attention when he embarked on a bipartisan road trip from Texas to Washington, D.C. with colleague Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas).

Whether or not Cruz is vulnerable enough to lose Texas to a Democrat remains to be seen. Little polling has been conducted there, as typically the state is not competitive. A better gauge of Republican attitudes toward Cruz may come in the form of a primary challenger, but nobody has expressed interest in that avenue thus far. Until then, Cruz seems poised to remain in the Senate.

[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]

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